SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Brynie Robinson coaches at Vashon Island, lives in Oregon … but doesn’t sleep in back of truck anymore
Brynie Robinson doesn’t live on Vashon Island. He doesn’t even live in this state.
Every other weekend the first-year Vashon High School football coach hops into his truck, hustles to the ferry to Point Defiance and hauls 190 miles to his home in Silverton, Oregon (about 15 miles northeast of Salem).
His coaching salary pays for the gas. But that’s about it.
“We do this for the love of it,” Robinson said.
By “we” he actually means “I.” It’s a habit the quirky Robinson developed from his father, Robby Robinson, who is something of a program rebuilder, winning three state championships in two states, has coached in 13 states overall, and is currently the coach at Canyon View High School in Cedar City, Utah.
The Robinsons take the “There’s no I in team” mantra so literally that they have just about rid “I” from their vocabulary. It’s almost always “we.”
“My wife always goes, ‘So are we going to the store, I going to the store or you going to the store? Which we are we talking about?’ ” said Robinson, who was leaning on crutches, his left foot in a boot at Wednesday’s practice due to a torn Achilles tendon he suffered playing basketball.
He didn’t have a place to sleep when he came back to Vashon for the start of fall practices. So he slept two nights curled up in a sleeping bag in the back seat of his Chevy Silverado.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Robinson said. “I actually slept pretty long.
“And my office (inside the Vashon boys locker room), it has a bathroom and a shower and it has a fridge. We (he means I) were all set up. All we needed was a place to sleep and a cheap way to do it was in the back of the truck.”
So why not move to Vashon, like some coaches might?
Robinson is also a financial adviser at Edward Jones in Silverton. Robinson got it cleared by his employers to work remotely during the fall from Vashon’s office, but he’ll return to Silverton once the football season’s over.
Robinson first planned to live with a friend in Shoreline, but that lasted only a couple of days. He finished spring practices staying in a camper that a family of one of his players had on its property.
After two nights in the back of his truck, one of his assistants, Sam Hill, found out and offered a basement room in his home on the island. That’s where Robinson has stayed since.
His wife sings on the worship team at their church in Silverton and works at a pizza place. She alternates every other weekend traveling to Vashon, with their Chiweenie — a mix between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund — in tow.
“When we got married, she sort of knew what she was getting into,” Robinson said. “And I was coaching in Utah for a while, so at least this time we get to see each other every weekend. There was one time I was gone for a month.”
He’s brought with him some unique schemes.
The South Sound’s most common offenses, according to preseason questionnaires that coaches submitted to The News Tribune, are some version of the spread (24 teams), pistol (nine) or pro-style (eight). There are 14 schools listed that have multiple base sets.
Only Vashon runs, what Robinson calls, “the unbalanced, up-tempo, no-huddle spread dive attack.”
The Pirates play an offensive guard and two tackles on the strong side of the offensive line, with just a guard and tight end on the weak side. The spread part of the offense is more of a distinction of the offensive linemen — there’s only one receiver — who space about three feet apart.
It’s designed to create running lanes without requiring big blockers. The wide spacing naturally creates holes and the linemen angle block instead of driving defenders upfield.
Robinson and his father say they believe that they are the only two coaches in the country with such an offense. And Brynie (pronounced Brye-nee) is different from his father in that his offensive coordinator is sophomore quarterback Connor Hoisington (a first-year starter).
That’s right. The quarterback is the team’s offensive coordinator. Hoisington calls all the team’s plays at the line of scrimmage, no matter if it’s the first quarter or there’s 10 seconds remaining in the game.
“I like to call it from the sideline, but (Brynie is) trying to advance our scheme and I like it,” said his father.
“That’s why I think he was ready to be a head coach because I wasn’t ready to give up control of the offense.”
The Robinsons rarely punt and prefer onside kicks. They try to run plays every 10 seconds.
“Dad ran the no-huddle offense and it’s up tempo, but we (again, he means I) felt it could have gone faster,” Robinson said. “That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to become a head coach. … We wanted to take the offense and go faster. We also wanted the quarterback to call the plays.”
Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor held out hoping for more money, but what about Hoisington? Where’s his salary for also serving as Vashon’s offensive coordinator?
“My salary is just playing on the field,” he said. “And there’s a lot of improvement I need to do.”
Not if he can just keep handing the ball to his older brother.
So far, Vashon junior running back Bryce Hoisington has 103 carries for 778 yards and nine touchdowns, including 41 carries for 376 yards in a 52-48 come-from-behind victory against Charles Wright last week.
Vashon (2-1) needs one more win to match the number it had last season.
“Everything is different. The whole culture has changed,” Bryce Hoisington said.
Including the defense. Robinson, who served as a defensive coordinator under his father at schools in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Utah, does not have a defensive coordinator. Vashon runs a 6-2- defense that brings up-front pressure with press, man-to-man coverage behind it.
He did switch it to a 4-2-5 defense to match up better against Charles Wright’s spread offense last week. But after allowing 48 points, Robinson said that defense has been thrown into the trash.
Assistant coach Jason Butler was on the interview committee during Vashon’s offseason coaching search. He said Robinson’s positivity and honesty stood out most, as well as his track record of helping his father rebuild down programs with low turnout.
But Robinson’s not a teacher. He doesn’t live on the island. He doesn’t live in Washington. And he’s never before been a head coach.
“Oh, totally,” Butler said. “But you look at the other candidates and nobody was really bringing anything different. And we had nowhere to go but up. So why not? Make the change. If he does half of what he says, it will be great.”
And what about all these new schemes?
“That was a little weird,” Butler said. “But I was willing to let go. We had tried things in the past that didn’t work. It was either this or continue to be frustrated with where we are.”
Andy Sears became Vashon’s athletic director in June, a couple of months after Robinson was hired. Sears was most concerned about not having a coach who lives in the community.
“But he’s (Robinson) kind of created a situation where he’s completely cleared out his schedule to completely focus on building a team and a program,” Sears said. “It’s actually allowed him to be focused on football from early in the morning to late at night. He’s clearly been invited into our community as a member of our community. He’s always here.”
Not that he has anywhere else to go.